Lawrence Weschler Uncanny Valley 2011

Uncanny Valley, A Talk by Lawrence Weschler

Crowley Theatre
Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Community pot-luck dinner at 6:00 PM
Bring a covered dish

In his words:

“Faces hit walls all the time in the movies, but this is different: the Wall these filmmakers keep running up against seems to be the Face itself.  Digital animators, that is, in their quest to perfect ever more believable computerized simulations of a human being, a credible cyber-actor moving through time and space.  Bodies—walking, standing, running, slouching, brawling—turns out, these are all quite doable, no longer that big a deal.  Hands—grasping, signaling, stroking, idling at rest—granted, they’re a bit more of a challenge, but not all that much more, and at least conceptually within reach.  But a believable human face–a credible face in motion, and what’s more, emoting—damn, but that was proving tough.  A hard nut.   A daunting massif.  And some are beginning to ask themselves whether this particular Wall was even theoretically scalable.”

Lawrence Weschler explores the way images, poems, musical themes, etc. set a context for the reception of subsequent experiences, i.e. we see and create by way of our entire prior sensorium. On the occasion of the publication of a new collection of essays, Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative, (Counterpoint Press), which cover 15 years of unique insight and wild observation, Weschler considers a spectrum of convergent effects, from apophenia (the tendency of humans to create patterns) through co-causation, fractalization, influence, homage, allusion, quotation, appropriation, cryptonesia (unconscious verbatim appropriation), and outright plagiarism. A staff writer for The New Yorker for twenty years, he contributes regularly to McSweeney’s, and is director of the New York Institute for the Humanities.